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Classical 101

Chant Hits the Charts (again)

Twenty years ago, the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos released an album which rocketed to the top of the charts.  Chant was an instant, and enduring, hit.  It has sold over 6,000,000 copies.

Another group has shared their music/worship with the world with similar results.  According to reports, Benedicta - Marian Chant from Norcia debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s classical music chart the week of June 10th - (It is still at #2).  Benedicta was also the top overall seller at Barnes & Noble, was No. 2 on Amazon, and made iTunes’ Top 40.  The biggest difference between then and now is the potential distribution.  Yes, CDs will be purchased, but the download potential is enormous.  What took 20 years then may happen in 20 months today.

Convincing the Norcia monks to allow this recording to be made was a long process.  The co-founder of De Montfort Music, Monica Fitzgibbons, first heard them in 2007.  She knew immediately this was something she wanted them to share with the world.  The 15th anniversary of their move to this location seemed the perfect time.

Several things help elevate the quality of this recording.  The producer/director is 11-time Grammy winner Christopher Alder, who counts among his credits projects with Placido Domingo.  The monastery’s leader, Fr. Cassian Folsom, had studied voice at Indiana University before becoming a monk.  On the blog site Deceptive Cadence, Fr. Folsom told NPR's Scott Simon that "We chant the Divine Office and the Mass every day...and if you put all of those moments together it takes about five hours a day. Three hundred sixty-five days a year."


In a musical world of pitch correctors, overdubs, and semi-trailers full of audio gear and light shows, it is refreshing to step back and experience music which comes from within, without embellishment or affectation.

As I write this, I am surrounded by this amazing music.  I highly recommend it for it's beauty, simplicity, and depth.